Leigh McCullough has been with Evolution for just over two years. She is a critical member of the research team with a background in statistics. Leigh works closely with Evolution’s Chief Research Officer, Mike Heasley, to provide clients with exceptional quantitative research services. Leigh shares with us the career path that brought her to Evolution, as well as her insights into the industry.

Question: How did you first get into a career in biopharma market research and consulting?

I started my career in biopharma market research when I joined Evolution in 2013, but my journey into market research was over a decade in the making.  While in my undergraduate studies, I had aspirations of working in market research on consumer goods. Following graduation I accepted a position as a statistical analyst for Procter and Gamble in their pharmaceutical division. During that time, I gained a wealth of industry knowledge, as well as experience running clinical trials. While at Procter and Gamble I earned my M.S. degree in statistics. After 10 years of clinical trial work, I set my sights on a position in market research.  My skill set was well suited for a biopharma market research position with a quantitative focus, and I joined Evolution as an Associate Methodologist just over 2 years ago.

Q: What is your greatest strength that you bring to your projects and your clients?

My greatest strengths are my experience working on clinical trials and my quantitative/statistical skills.  I think they bring a unique perspective to our clients.

Q: What are some of the trends you see in our industry?

One trend I’ve noticed in our industry is that research in Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC) is more common. Pharma companies realize the importance of these growing markets and what gaining drug approvals in these countries can do to grow their business.  As research in these markets increases, so do the complexities of conducting market research in these areas.  Some of the challenges include the ability to recruit the types of HCPs and/or patients targeted as well as ensuring the quality of the moderators and the respondents recruited. In addition, market researchers need to make sure local regulatory and MR standards are met.

Q: What do you currently see as the greatest challenge in our industry?

With market research headcounts decreasing and budgets shrinking, we need to make sure that we partner with our clients and become a preferred vendor who can get the work done quickly and cost effectively, all while maintaining the high quality of our deliverables. We need to be seen as valuable members of the strategic team and not just have a transactional relationship.

Q: What advice would you give to young professionals starting out in pharma and/or market research?

My advice for young professionals starting out in pharma market research is to have a passion for research and medicine.  In market research, we are trying to answer our clients’ questions in detail — to get at the “why” of things. The work will be much easier and more fulfilling for you if you are inquisitive and have an interest in the topic.  You will also be highly valued if you are equally skilled at both qualitative and quantitative research, though most people focus their career on one type.  My strengths lie in quantitative work, which is not surprising given my statistical background. Finally, remember, when the work is all said and done, to take satisfaction in the fact that the insights you have provided to your clients will ultimately help patients with the end goal of improving their lives.